To gain entry to college football's most exclusive party, you at least have to make it as far as the velvet rope. No. 19 Tulsa's 30-23 loss to Arkansas was the equivalent of the Golden Hurricanes getting ready to leave for the club and realizing their favorite Affliction shirt had been used as a litter box, then finally making it out to the car only to find out the battery was dead.
There goes another mid-major with BCS bowl aspirations. To quote Agatha Christie: then there were four.
No. 10 Utah, No. 11 Boise State, No. 12 TCU and No. 18 Ball State all remain in the chase for an at-large BCS bid but who has the most legit shot of getting into the proverbial party? Here's a look at the contenders, with James Dalton, the official BCS Club bouncer who formerly worked the door at the Double Deuce, giving his verdicts.
The 9-0 Utes are 10th in the latest BCS rankings, meaning if they win out, they're in. Of course, that's a little easier said than done, what with the Horned Frogs and the regular season-ending Holy War against BYU still on tap. They've been there before, making the 2004 Fiesta Bowl, and there are still players on the roster that were part of the entourage last time and can still taste those Apple martinis. This may also be the most complete team on the list, despite struggling with New Mexico in a 13-10 win.
Dalton says: The Utes are getting ready to walk the red carpet but they're still penciled in on the guest list.
Like Utah, the Broncos (8-0) aren't newbies when it comes to Club BCS, they know the bouncers and the DJ knows Ian Johnson's favorite tune. The road is as manageable as you could ask for Boise State, which still has trips to 2-8 Idaho and 4-4 Nevada and a regular-season finale against inconsistent Fresno State on the Smurf Turf, where the Broncos have won 17 straight. But those games won't earn them any BCS love, where they're 11th, and plus Boise State needs some help: in '04, both the Broncos and Utes were unbeaten but Utah earned the BCS bid, while the Broncos headed to the Liberty Bowl.
Dalton says: The Broncos are en route to the club and while they look good, Utah is already there wearing the exact same outfit.
The Horned Frogs (9-1) already ruined one would-be clubber's night out, taking then-No. 9 BYU's place in line and they'll have to do the same to the Utes on Thursday if they're going to get in the door before last call. TCU is 13th in the BCS and does have one loss, though it came against Oklahoma. If the Frogs can run the table with just the Utes and Air Force remaining, it's not inconceivable to think they'll pass an unbeaten Boise State.
Dalton says: TCU claims it has a friend at the front of the line. It worked on BYU, but will Utah fall for the same trick?
With a schedule that includes seven opponents who currently have losing records, you could say the 8-0 Cardinals are like a kid that is a whiz at Dance Dance Revolution and thinks that means he can win a dance contest. Ball State's toughest games lie ahead with Northern Illinois on Wednesday, then Central Michigan and Western Michigan, along with a possible MAC title game. At 20th in the BCS, the Cardinals' biggest problem is that they're 20th and they may have too much ground to make up and basically need a series of catastrophes to happen in front of them.
Dalton says: The Cardinals got all dolled up for the party, but they got here a little too late. Might want to try the bar across the street at Applebees.